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Why recruiting tech talent at board level is now a necessity

By Jessie Davies

19/01/2023

Tech recruitment saw activity slow down as we closed out the end of the year.  Although, this doesn't necessarily predict the same behaviour for 2023. Mass redundancies and tech bubble bursts have been front and centre of our industry updates throughout 2022. Despite this, it hasn’t changed how companies view the relationship between tech and operations, keeping digital transformation at the forefront of our minds. This, combined with the continual introduction and adoption of new tech trends (AI, VR & now ChatGPT to name a few) means the need for tech talent isn't going anywhere.

Digital transformation has seen a dramatic uptake by businesses in recent years, even since the events of the pandemic have quietened, with transformation offering a valuable opportunity to stay competitive in our economic environment. However, adoption without a full understanding of how these changes are integrated into a company’s ongoing blueprint can result in a short-sighted strategy. And will need to be understood and implemented into day-to-day activity to ensure real success.

As accurately highlighted in an article by MIT Sloan; “[in 1999] Andy Grove, the late chairman of Intel, told an audience in Ireland that in a few years, there would no longer be a need to label businesses as ‘internet companies.’ Because they would all be internet companies.” And to correctly harness the benefits that come from investing in transformation, the correct policies, processes and most importantly; people, need to be part of an organisation’s consideration.

Talent stands the test of time

It begs the question that all businesses want to answer; “how do we make our business stand out?” And that answer is determined by your leadership team. To push the undefined boundaries of tech, we need to understand that whatever your business needs to stand out, will be achieved by ensuring you hire a team with a variety of skills across a variety of roles. This will mean that when a situation without a clear decision presents itself, your team will have the knowledge and experience to make a call that will drive your business forward.

Without vision, insight, and skill - any organisation is at risk of being overtaken in their industry. And in a market where, despite your sector, all businesses are becoming tech businesses (or “internet companies”), what do you need to consider to be amongst the best in your industry?

To be among the best you need to examine where your leadership’s team members accountability lands. For example, you wouldn’t hire a financial expert without the expectation of them effectively managing your company’s money. With this approach in mind, where is your technical perspective? Why, in this ever-evolving digital landscape, would you risk foresight on any technical challenges your operations may come up against?

To make a case for effectively avoiding this, we need to look at the two distinct benefits that, by including tech leaders, you could bring to your business. Starting with a matter that is a high priority for all. Security.

Keep it secret, keep it safe

Cyber-security awareness is at an all-time high. Today there are an average of 97 cyber crime victims per hour, meaning that there is a victim of cyber-crime every 37 seconds. And with 41% of executives not convinced that their security initiatives have kept up with digital transformation; it’s easy to see how technical representation is imperative to identify any potential bind spots.

This is amplified since the rise of remote and hybrid working, as the control over how your distributed team securely access the wide web is progressively minimised. And for your wider team to follow essential daily behaviours that ensure they safely navigate their digital space, the necessary technical preparations need to be implemented. Creating a greater need for these leadership skillsets.

Having this groundwork in place will ensure your day-to-days are kept secure. Having your finger to the pulse is imperative for satisfying market demand and staying relevant with your customers, and no-one in your team will understand that more than your tech talent. And as they say, "the best form of defence is hiring senior tech talent". Or however that saying goes.

Disruption isn’t a negative word

Blockbuster didn’t anticipate the irrelevancy that Netflix gifted them. Taxi’s were blindsided by Uber’s convenience. Myspace underestimated what exclusivity would mean for Facebook. And restaurants weren’t prepared for the comfort preference that Deliveroo served. Each, along with countless others, are their own cautionary tale for taking the familiar route to problem solving instead of pushing the boundaries.

62% of high-growth companies plan to invest in technologies, leading them to higher rates of innovation. Recognising that just one missed innovation could mean your company risking irrelevancy, what’s to stop that from happening sooner than you expected?

Ideas are unpredictable, as are trends and market changes. Did any of us see a stronger comeback than that of the QR code? Or the most recent interest in, and application of, AI learning? Whether big or small changes, they can readily appear in our industries. And whenever and however they present themselves, you will need the expertise that understands the practicalities of the new requirements, how these are achieved, and how to continue to safeguard business operations.

Missing out will mean others moving on

Despite these important factors, it’s understandable why tech recruitment at a board level can be overlooked by a lot of organisations.

In view of the current state of hiring tech talent, it’s easy to see how it is becoming increasingly more difficult for companies, whatever their size. The largest percentage recorded so far; 68% of UK digital leaders, stated that a skills shortage prevents them from keeping up with the pace of change. And with more than half (52%) of digital leaders in the UK expecting their technology budget to rise, it’s no surprise the battle for talent continues, and investment may seem like an arduous task. However, without taking on a considered approach to the skillsets included in your leadership team, and ensuring these are sourced and present, it will be all too easy to miss out on the person who could help elevate your processes, your strategy, and your overall direction.

Ultimately, without recruiting the variety of skills needed and if tech isn’t represented at a board level, then it can’t be factored into your organisation in a meaningful way. Resulting in a lack of the driving force needed to continue in the current landscape.

Moore’s Law demonstrates how roughly, every two years, the number of transistors on microchips will double. Whilst this was later decreased to 18 months, Moore’s Law is still frequently used as an example of how the technology world is completely reinventing itself. Aptly illustrating the momentum and level of change required to stay relevant in business. As with time and tide, tech doesn’t wait. And moving forward at a technical pace is necessary to ensure your organisation doesn’t fall behind the curve, becoming nothing but a memory in the market you once existed.